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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Card politics: Playing your hand

Published: September 26, 2008
Section: Opinions

Nobody can deny how truly groundbreaking this presidential election cycle has bee. In January of 2009 either the first African-American or the first woman will get sworn into the executive office for the first time in history. Unfortunately, for all the new walls that are crumbling down, some still want to hold those walls erect. Throughout the campaign several reporters in the media, some politicians, and several campaign surrogates have been making references to certain candidate’s race, age, and sex irresponsibly and sometimes in an outright bigoted manner. The worst offenders of playing these cards are the Democrats as well as, I am sad to say, Senator Obama. Recently the Democrats as well as Senator Obama have been attacking the Republican ticket not on the issues, but on how old Senator McCain is. They have also been making derogatory remarks about Governor Palin over the past two weeks in response to her rising popularity among voters and in the media. Senator Obama has even laid claim that the reason people do not want to vote for him has nothing to do with his liberal record in the senate or his paper thin resume, but that it is because of the color of his skin. The Democrats and Senator Obama have stated over and over again that Americans of sick of “politics as usual,” however many modern day politicians would not sink to the levels that these bigoted politicians in Obama’s campaign have sunk to.

Senator McCain is 72 years old and if elected would be the oldest first term president in the history of the country, although older people have been elected before. Early on in his campaign many feared that his age would pose a threat to his possible candidacy, however he quickly dispelled many of the fears people had about his age. He more than often used his humor to counter fears, making a notable appearance on Saturday Night Live where he proclaimed that America needed a leader who is, “very, very, very old.” Secondly McCain’s vigorous campaigning, plus the fact that his 96 year old mother sometimes accompanies him on the campaign trail, has helped to calm voters about the age issue. However, Democrats have consistently tried to subliminally and sometimes overtly disqualify McCain in the eyes of voters based on his age. Over the summer, Democrats grew fond of calling McCain “confused” when it came to certain issues. Whenever Senator McCain would make a mistake, something that happens often when you are campaigning vigorously for over a year, Democrats would pounce on the moment to call McCain confused and claim that he was having a senior moment. These key words subliminally messaged to voters that they should be wary of electing a man of McCain’s age into the presidency, however they never blatantly referred to his age as a reason to not vote for him, until recently. For all of Senator Obama’s calls for a clean political race, it is ironic that he would make a televised ad that focuses on attacking McCain on his age. It first mentions that in 1982, McCain first came to Washington and then it flashes several images of old technology and toys from 1982 to remind voters just how old McCain is. This blatant attempt to play the age card was only heightened by the second part of the ad where it claims that McCain cannot use a computer or send an e-mail. Not only is this a stupid attack, it is also a complete lie. Senator McCain has said that he can use a computer to obtain the information he needs and that when he needs to, he knows how to send an e-mail just fine. So not only did Senator Obama attack Senator McCain in this ad for the simple fact that he is old, but he also lied in the ad to try and exaggerate his point. What is even worse on the part of Senator Obama is that the only problem Senator McCain has with computers is that he has difficulty using the keyboard as a result of his war wounds. So to sum up this ad, Senator Obama attacks Senator McCain because he came to congress in 1982, which means he has actual experience, he attacks McCain based on a lie that was created to exaggerate further McCain’s age, and then finally Senator Obama essentially mocks Senator McCain’s heroic wartime struggle as a prisoner of war. Unfortunately this is not the lowest that the Obama campaign sank in its terrible attacks, in truth these attacks seem benign when compared to the horrible comments made about Governor Palin.

When Governor Palin was first besieged by the media with blatantly sexist remarks and attacks, Senator Obama was the first to say that family was off limits. The Obama Campaign and many prominent Democrats responsibly decided, for the most part, not to join in on the terrible hostilities while Campbell Brown and MSNBC were questioning whether Palin could be a vice-president and a mother of five. However, as the blatant sexist coverage of Governor Palin seemed to cool down, Senator Obama and several other prominent Democrats continued the sexist assaults on Governor Palin. Possibly the worst remark made recently was one touted by the South Carolina Democratic Party chairwoman, Carol Fowler. She remarked that the two term Governor of Alaska’s only qualification for president was that, “She hasn’t had an abortion.” Fowler decided to dismiss all of Governor Palin’s accomplishments and simply make a derogatory remark directed at her.

This was not an attack from an extremist liberal blog website or a remark made by Keith Olbermann; she is the chairwoman of the South Carolina Democratic Party a prominent position in the Democratic Party. What is worse is that the Obama campaign did not even make an attempt to condemn the horrible remark made by this woman. Then there was also the recent remark made by Senator Obama about “lipstick on a pig.” Now many were in uproar because some were convinced it was an attack on Governor Palin, apparently even those in the audience at the rally, and some believed it was simply a twisting of Senator Obama’s words by Republicans for their own ends. The truth is Senator Obama made the remark, for the first time, only two weeks after another lipstick reference was popularized by Governor Palin about herself. Also, when reading the jibe on paper, it seems innocent, however, when one observes the video it is obvious that the audience understands the cheap shot before he even finishes the line and reacts to it. Even if Senator Obama did not consciously mean to insult Palin, he should have apologized for the misunderstanding. He could have said that he did not mean it as an insult, but understood why people took it that way. Instead he simply tried the blame the Republicans for the controversy even though he was the one that said the line. After hearing of how many people were legitimately offended by the sexist remark, he simply brushed them off as attention getters. It should also be noted that Senator Obama himself has not used the phrase since, which leads one to the obvious conclusion that he himself understood just what a mistake the comment was and still refused to acknowledge it. Though, this was still not the worst Senator Obama has done to play to bigoted ideals; he actually played to racism itself, making a horribly unfounded and ridiculous accusation. During the Republican National Convention, former Governor Mike Huckabee paid tribute to Senator Obama’s nomination by commenting, “I say with sincerity that I have great respect for Senator Obama’s historic achievement to become his party’s nominee — not because of his color, but with indifference to it.” Early in this election many in the Democratic Party worried that Senator Obama’s campaign could be hindered by those with outdated racist views.

As the election proceeded, Obama exceeded expectations and proved that his race would not hinder his election. However, instead of continuing to prove that he could win the election with indifference to race, he decided that he would inject the race issue back into the campaign and accuse the McCain campaign of attacking Obama based on the color of Obama’s skin. Obama commented over the summer that the McCain campaign and his Republican allies would try to scare voters away from voting for Senator Obama because, “he (Senator Obama) doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.” Senator McCain quickly called out Senator Obama for the irresponsible use of the race card and Obama tried to excuse the comment, he said that his comment was misinterpreted by the McCain camp. However Obama’s chief strategist admitted that Senator Obama was in fact referring to race during the speech. Senator Obama’s dismissal of the legitimate concerns of millions of McCain supporters and independents as just racism is insulting, irresponsible, immoral, and quite frankly ridiculous. Additionally, the accusation that Senator McCain, a man who sacrificed five years of freedom to torture in a prisoner of war camp, is racist is a low blow that would make even Karl Rove blush. Senator Obama is happy to break down walls that have plagued this country for decades, however it seems that he is all to happy to hoist those walls right back up for his own political gain.

Senator Obama claims to represent a new kind of politics; however, one look at his rhetoric and it is clear that he is willing to sink to lows that not even Richard Nixon would have sunk to in order to win his campaign. Obama’s constant attacks that McCain is simply to old to be president irresponsibly uses false claims to exaggerate McCain’s age and scare people to vote for Obama. Obama also simultaneously uses McCain’s disability due to his war wounds as political leverage to score cheap points in a political ad.

Senator Obama refused to apologize when a comment he made legitimately insulted supporters of Governor Palin, he even blamed their anger for the comment on a conspiracy to attack Obama’s campaign. Finally Senator Obama felt it necessary to inject race into this election by calling Senator McCain and his supporter’s racists for simply not supporting him. Many in the media have been blasting the McCain campaign for going too negative; however, there is nothing wrong with going negative as long as it is based in truth and facts.

When Senator Obama goes and pulls the age, race, and sex cards out, he is going negative based on nothing more than stereotypes and lies. If Senator Obama wants to try and link McCain to Bush in order to win this campaign that is fine; however, his use of racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry as political leverage is even worse than the “politics as usual” that Obama works so hard to criticize.